The First Bright Thing

J. R. Dawson

22 June 2023
352 pages


When darkness descends, expect sparks. The First Bright Thing by J. R. Dawson is a spellbinding debut for fans of The Night Circus and The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue.

Welcome to the Circus of the Fantasticals . . .

After World War I, a select few wake up with frightening magical abilities. Rin can jump through time. Her wife, Odette, can heal the unhealable. And their friend, Mauve, sees what others can’t. Alone, afraid and exiled from regular society, the trio create a haven for Sparks – people like them – a circus housing those who are powerful and lost.

Now it’s 1926, and Rin runs the Circus of the Fantasticals. It travels across the States, spreading enchantment and joy to those who need it. Rin hopes their performances leave the world brighter than before. But new threats loom that even circus lights can’t vanquish. Another devastating war is barrelling across the world. Worse still, Rin’s past creeps closer every day, a malevolent shadow she can’t fully escape. This takes the form of a rival circus, with tents as black as midnight. Its leader has dark powers and even darker desires. For the Sparks have something he wants – and Rin knows he won’t stop until he has it.

‘This is the magic circus book that I have been looking for all my life. It's compelling and brilliant' - Seanan McGuire

*Longlisted for Best Novel at the British Science Fiction Association Awards 2023*

Mesmerizing and magical, The First Bright Thing gives friendship, love and found family top billing, puts the audacity of optimism on center stage and delivers a voice with artistry and flair worthy of the Ringmaster herself
If this circus were real, I’d be in the front row; it’s the found family so many of us crave. Richly imagined and vividly depicted, The First Bright Thing shows both the joys and costs of power
This magical novel will invite you into an astounding circus and carry you along on its wild journey through time, struggling to survive in the shadow of world wars and the sinister threat of their greatest competitor. The cast of colorful, endearing characters will make you glad to know that, as the Ringmaster says, ’Circus people never say goodbye’